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Literary Collections Letters

Farley and Claire

A Love Story

by (author) Michael Harris

foreword by Margaret Atwood

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Letters, Literary, Love & Romance
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price

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Farley and Claire is a love story, a biography, a Tale of Two Farleys, or perhaps three: the public one, the private one, and the secret one.”—Margaret Atwood

The tumultuous, enduring love story between iconic writer Farley Mowat and his wife Claire, including excerpts from their passionate letters, published here for the first time.

When Farley Mowat met Claire Wheeler in August 1960, the attraction was immediate, and within days they were lovers, despite the fact that Farley was already married. Their affair—partly aided and abetted by publisher Jack McClelland—included an extended correspondence until several years later, when Farley finally obtained a Mexican divorce and the two were married in Texas. They were together until Farley’s death 54 years later.

Claire, a brilliant diarist, has given author Michael Harris complete access to her journals and letters, as well as Farley’s letters, and Harris has conducted extensive interviews with her and original research. The result is a literary love story for the ages, complete with photos of the couple who defied conventions of their time to be together.

Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.


About the authors

Michael Harris is the author of nine books and has received numerous awards for his journalism and books. Three of his books have been made into movies, and his work has sparked four commissions of inquiry. He has also written numerous magazine articles and several television screenplays. He lives in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Michael Harris' profile page

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.
Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson. 

Margaret Atwood's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"[R]ecounts the passionate love affair between Farley Mowat, a Canadian naturalist and popular environmental author, and Claire Wheeler, his second wife... A revealing look inside a literary love affair."
Publishers Weekly

"Great love stories involve intense passion and a monumental impediment to its fulfilment. Farley and Claire is one such tumultuous, whirlpool of a love story that makes us long to be lovestruck again, and beloved."
—Susan Musgrave, author of Exculpatory Lilies

"Farley and Claire is a gripping and surprisingly suspenseful story of two writers in love that takes us on a ribald, rollicking journey full of books, boats, voyages, friendships, and feuds."
—Stephen Mayer, journalist and author of Salvage

"Michael Harris, ace investigative journalist, uses his skills to lay bare secrets of the human heart, and he triumphs. He’s got the documents—fiery, frank, lusty letters between emerging icon Farley Mowat and the young Claire Wheeler—as their creative souls merge and clash."
—David Beers, Founding Editor, The Tyee

"Michael Harris's beautifully written and richly detailed Farley and Claire: A Love Story is both laugh-out-loud entertaining and heartbreaking. Told with so much colour, grace, and style, this great love story between Canadian author Farley Mowat and Claire Wheeler is a page-turner and a beautiful book."
—Kate Malloy, Editor, The Hill Times

"Delving through 54 years of love letters between the irascible Farley Mowat and the lovely Claire Wheeler, Harris traces the arc of a Canadian marriage like no other, yet somehow like every other marriage: a country of dark forests, graceful clearings, and deep waters that sustain our thirst for love. Readers will find this stark romance between two very different soul-friends the right sort of tonic for these hateful times."
—Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Empire of the Beetle and The Energy of Slaves

"Farley Mowat was Canada's greatest iconoclastic environmental icon—fearless, uncompromising, and mischievous. Michael Harris reveals another Farley—angst-ridden and focused on Claire, the love of his life, enmeshed in the strictures and values of a time now gone. I wept, laughed, and commiserated as I followed this amazing love story with a happy ending."
—David Suzuki

"Farley and Claire is a love story as intimate and enduring as the love it portrays."
—Wayne Grady, author of Pandexicon and The Good Father

"I proudly published the remarkable Farley, and knew Claire for many years, but now find that their greatest work—about their love—was hidden and is now revealed here so unforgettably by Michael Harris."
—Douglas Gibson, former President and Publisher of McClelland & Stewart and author of Across Canada by Story


Other titles by Margaret Atwood